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Derby Madness Takes Over at Sacramento State University

By Anne Stokes

Posted: 3/20/2015

Annie Reksic Blocks Blue Crush
Capitol Punisher jammer Blue Crush (#11, right in star helmet) attempts to pass Folsom Prison Bruiser blocker Annie Reksic (#10) during the exposition roller derby match at Sacramento State.
Photos by Anne Stokes

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - The Sac City Rollers teamed up with Sacramento State University’s Women’s Resource Center and UNIQUE Programs on the evening of Thursday, March 12th, bringing their hard-hitting style of entertainment to campus. The free event featured the Capitol Punishers and Folsom Prison Bruisers competing against each other in an exposition match in celebration of March’s Women’s HerStory month.

“The reason we brought [Derby Madness] here in the first place was to expose Sac State students to these kind of events, because it’s not something usually on college campuses,” explained Zenia LaPorte, Sacramento State University Assistant Director for Programs and Marketing “It’s definitely a fun, action-packed event, and the crowd definitely gets into it. It’s a good time.”

Second-year communications student Andrea Arango, who attended Thursday night with her friends, had never seen a roller derby match before but quickly caught on to the game’s rules. “I’ve never seen something like this! I was like, a roller derby? Are we going to go and see people roller skate in circles? But it’s more than that,” she said. “I would say if you’re open to learning and seeing new things, you should definitely go. Have an open mind. I decided to go this year just to see what it’s about and I’m glad I came.”

“It’s always fun playing here at Sac State,” said Aleitha Burns, who has skated under the moniker “Aleithal Weapon” for the past seven years. “We get a lot of new fans, a lot of volunteers. It’s an opportunity for us to just play roller derby without the high pressure of sanctioning and rankings and the competitive nature. But of course we’re all athletes, so our competitiveness comes out.”

The game itself is a fast-paced, full-contact team sport in which 10 athletes at a time compete to out maneuver each other and score the most points. “There are two basic positions in women’s roller derby,” explained Burns. “There are the blockers, they make up the pack, and then the other position is the jammer. Essentially, the goal is for the jammer to get through the pack. The jammers score every time they successfully make it through the pack. So the pack is simultaneously playing offense to help their jammer through and defense to stop the opposing jammer. Jammers score points for every blocker from the opposing team they pass.”

Skater Bird Dog Works to Pass Foxy Knoxy in a Roller Derby Demonstration Match
Capitol Punisher blocker Foxy Knoxy (#777, inside right) blocks Folsom Prison Bruiser jammer Bird Dog (#415, in the star helmet) as she attempts to pass the pack and score during the exposition match at Sacramento State. Jammers score points for every opposing blocker they pass while blockers simultaneously obstruct opposing jammers while clearing the way for their own team’s jammer.

Founded in 2006, the Sac City Rollers was Sacramento’s first women’s flat track roller derby team. The team is comprised of two interleague teams, the Capitol Punishers and the Folsom Prison Bruisers, who compete together on an international level. “We play against our local teams here in California; we also have played against teams from Canada, we’ve played against teams from Scotland, [and] we’ve played against teams from Michigan,’ explained Burns. “In two weeks we have our first tournament [of the season]; it’s called the Dust Devil in Tuscan, Arizona, where we’ll be playing against a team from New Hampshire. Tournaments give us an opportunity to play teams from a larger range.”

The team is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, raising hundreds of dollars each bout for local charities, culminating in their annual Red Red Holiday Invitational tournament each December, the proceeds of which benefit the Sacramento Food Bank. “We have raised thousands of dollars over the last nine seasons for the Sacramento Food Bank,” said Burns, adding that “every game that we have, we pick a local charity to raise money for. All the proceeds from our raffle prizes all goes directly to a charity. At each bout we raise a couple hundred dollars for various charities.”

Burns, who is a middle school science teacher, is one of over 100 women and girls who make up the Sac City Rollers. Athletes come from a variety of backgrounds, from stay-at-home mothers to laboratory scientists, and range in age from as young as 18 to women in their mid-40s, who commit to working out at least three to four days a week for two to three hours at a time. According to Burns, however, the benefits reach well beyond just staying in shape: “I’ve gotten a whole group of friends that I know will always have my back no matter what happens.”

The Sac City Roller’s next match against the Auburn Outlaws is slated for March 21st at The Rink in Sacramento. If you think you may have what it takes to be a Capitol Punisher or Folsom Prison Bruiser, tryouts will be held on Sunday, June 7th. For more information, visit

Dirty Hippie Knows Stretching Before a Workout is Important
Folsom Prison Bruiser Dirty Hippie (#1LUV) stretches out pre-game at Derby Madness, the exposition match at Sacramento State’s University Union Ballroom.
Aleithal Weapon Zooms Around the Track
Capitol Punisher jammer Aleithal Weapon (#713, at left), known off the rink as teacher Aleitha Burns, scores points as she passes the pack of Folsom Bruisers during Derby Madness. “I grew up roller skating, I was a rink-rat. Every Friday, Saturday night I was at the roller skating rink. I got my first kiss on skates,” she admits. “So when I heard about roller derby, I thought ‘hey, why not?’ I like full-contact sports, I love roller skating, and try outs were happening in a few weeks. So I went to tryouts and have never looked back seven seasons later, from a rookie all the way to our All-Stars.”


Mylan World TeamTennis Returns to Sacramento

Posted: 2/27/2015

Mylan World TeamTennis Logo

CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG) - Mylan World TeamTennis (WTT) has decided to return to the Sacramento area as a newly formed ownership group will move the Texas Wild franchise from their home in Irving, Texas for the beginning of the 2015 season.

The team will be re-branded as California Dream and play at Sunrise Mall in the Sunrise MarketPlace Business District of Citrus Heights.

The new ownership group includes long-time franchise owner Jeff Launius who is joined by Harbor Point Tennis Club President Bob Kaliski and Dallas-based investment banker Michael Malone.

Kaliski, who is well-known in Northern California tennis circles for his successful tennis events, was eager to see professional team tennis return to the Sacramento region.

Kaliski pitched Launius, who has been a WTT team owner since 2001, on bringing the team to the Sacramento area. Launius was already well aware of the popularity of team tennis in the area.

“For so many years, I hated bringing my team to Sacramento because I knew there would be so many fans there going crazy for their team,” said Launius. “I hope they feel the same way about the Dream and come out to support us. This market certainly has fans that know and love World TeamTennis and they deserve a team.”

The Dream will play seven home matches this July on a specially-constructed stadium in the parking lot at Sunrise Mall. Sunrise MarketPlace will be an inaugural sponsor of the California Dream. Launius said the support of Sunrise MarketPlace merchants and the area’s fan base was appealing to the Dream’s owners.

Sunrise MarketPlace Executive Director Kathilynn Carpenter said, “We welcome the California Dream to Citrus Heights. We fully support the new team and its owners and look forward to seeing the stadium rise again at Sunrise Mall. Our customers have indicated they missed the sports-entertainment that team tennis brought to the District for several seasons beginning in 2002.”

World TeamTennis has been popular in the Sacramento area for nearly three decades. The region was previously home to one of the most successful franchises in league history from 1986-2013. According to research by Sunrise MarketPlace during the last tennis season in 2012, 43 percent of attendees spent an average of $71.45 the night of the event within the Sunrise MarketPlace Business District.

Team ownership will unveil the team logo and ticket packages in the next few weeks. The 2015 rosters will be finalized at the Mylan WTT Player Draft on March 16 in Indian Wells, Calif. The regular season begins July 12 and concludes on August 2 with the Mylan WTT Finals.

2015 marks the 40th season for Mylan World TeamTennis (WTT), the groundbreaking leader in professional team tennis competition. Mylan WTT features many of the world’s best players competing annually for the King Trophy, the league’s championship trophy named after co-founder Billie Jean King. This summer, Mylan WTT becomes only the fifth major professional team sports league in the U.S. to reach the 40th season milestone.

Mylan WTT has been a pioneer in the sports world with many of the league’s modernizations recognized and adopted by others in the industry. In addition to being the first professional sports league to feature men and women competing equally on a team, Mylan WTT has showcased advancements such as no-ad and cumulative scoring, on-court coaching and playing let serves.

Source: Mylan World TeamTennis

Bob Mariano
Bob Mariano will take the helm as the River Cats’ sixth manager since their inaugural season in Sacramento in 2000.
Photo courtesy of the Sacramento River Cats

River Cats Announce 2015 Manager and Field Staff

Posted: 2/6/2015

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA - The Sacramento River Cats have announced their field staff in conjunction with their inaugural season as the San Francisco Giants’ Triple-A affiliate in 2015.

Bob Mariano will take the helm as the River Cats’ sixth manager since their inaugural season in Sacramento in 2000. During his previous six seasons as the Giants’ Triple-A skipper, Mariano has managed several big league stars such as Madison Bumgarner, Buster Posey, and Pablo Sandoval. During this past season he managed Joe Panik, Travis Ishikawa, and Roseville native Andrew Susac.

Prior to managing in Fresno, Mariano has served as skipper for Single-A Advanced Vero Beach (Dodgers) of the Florida State League in 2001, the Pacific Coast League’s Tucson Toros (Brewers) in 1997, and the California League’s Stockton Ports (Brewers) in 1995.

Mariano has been with the San Francisco Giants organization since 2005, serving as a coordinator of minor league hitting instruction for the Giants farm system from 2005-2011 before beginning his managerial career in 2012. Mariano previously served as a minor league hitting instructor with the Los Angeles Dodgers (2002-04) and in roles with the Baltimore Orioles (1985-86), New York Yankees (1988-92), Milwaukee Brewers (1993-97), and Arizona Diamondbacks (1998-2000).

The Phoenix, Arizona native also managed in the Italian Baseball Federation (Anzio, 1987) and Australian Baseball Federation (Newport, 1987). The former utility player spent seven seasons in the minors with the Yankees (1980-82) and Orioles (1983-86). He originally signed with the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent in 1980.

Andy Skeels will assume the role of hitting coach for the River Cats in 2015. Skeels was also hitting coach for the Savannah Sand Gnats (2000, 02-04), Brevard County Manatees (2004-05), and Augusta GreenJackets (2006-07). In six seasons (2008-13) as a manager in the San Francisco Giants’ organization with Augusta, Richmond, and San Jose, Skeels went 497-342 winning more games and with a higher winning percentage (.592) than any manager in the minor leagues and led Augusta to the South Atlantic League title in 2008. Skeels managed from 2002, 08-13, and owns a career managerial record of 525-374 (.584).

The New Zealand native was the first-ever New Zealand born player to be drafted by a Major League organization and had the honor of managing the New Zealand national team in the 2013 World Baseball Classic Qualifiers, leading them to the championship game against Taiwan. He played at the University of Arkansas before being selected by the San Diego Padres in the seventh round of the 1987 amateur draft and playing in the minors from 1987-2001, briefly reaching Triple-A.

Dwight Bernard will serve as pitching coach for the River Cats in 2015. Previously, he has been a pitching coach and instructor for nine different organizations from 1986-2014, including stints with the Minnesota Twins, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Milwaukee Brewers organizations. The Mount Vernon, Illinois native was drafted by the New York Mets in the second round of the 1974 amateur draft and reached the majors with the club in 1978, spending most of that year in the Mets bullpen. He was traded to Milwaukee and in 1982 pitched an inning in Game 6 of the World Series vs. St. Louis. However, he was released by the Brewers the following spring. He spent 1983 and 1984 in the Houston Astros farm system and ended his career with the Baltimore Orioles in 1985.

James Petra will enter his seventh consecutive season in the Giants’ organization and his first as athletic trainer in Sacramento. The 2004 University of Connecticut graduate spent the 2014 season in Fresno after being with Double-A Richmond for two seasons (2012-13), and both Augusta (2009) and San Jose (2010-11) for one season each. Prior to the Giants, he spent 2007-08 as the assistant athletic trainer and head strength and conditioning coach for the Bowie Baysox, a Double-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles.

Brad Lawson will start his fourth season in the Giants organization as the strength and conditioning coach. Entering his seventh season in professional baseball, he previously worked for the Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals after earning a degree in kinesiology and education from the University of New Brunswick in Canada. He currently resides in Glenside, Pennsylvania.

Pablo Lopez will round out the River Cats staff for 2015 as the clubhouse manager. Lopez has spent 18 full seasons in clubhouse management positions both at the major- and minor-league level since 1996 and has been with the Giants’ Triple-A affiliate since 2011. Lopez has worked for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Oakland Athletics, and San Jose Giants. He has also assisted in Arizona spring training operations for various clubs. Lopez is a native of Santa Clara and was raised in San Jose.

Source: Sacramento River Cats

River Cats Valentine’s Day Packs On Sale

Posted: 2/6/2015

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, fans can make a memory for that special baseball fan in their life with two unique Sacramento River Cats Valentine’s Day packs.

For only $100, the Dinger Gram package includes two Senate-level ticket vouchers and a merchandise basket that includes a hat, picture frame, Dinger signed baseball, seat cushion, River Cats 2015 calendar, and Jelly Belly candies. This package will be delivered personally by the River Cats’ mascot Dinger.

With seven holidays in the month of February (Super Bowl, Groundhog Day, Valentine’s Day, Pitchers & Catchers Report Day, Presidents Day, Mardi Gras, and Chinese New Year), fans can also purchase a special Sweetheart holiday ticket package for the River Cats’ 2015 season. The packs include vouchers to all seven holidays during the River Cats season including Opening Day, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Father’s Day, Dinger’s Birthday, July 3rd, and Labor Day and are available in Assembly ($70) or Senate ($105) seating levels.

Deliveries can be scheduled for Thursday, February 12th; Friday, February 13th; or Saturday, February 14th and should be within a 30-mile radius of Raley Field. Delivery orders should be received by Tuesday, February 10th to ensure time for scheduling.

The Dinger Grams are available for purchase by calling the On Deck Shop team store at (916) 376-4796 or visiting the store, which is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. The Sweetheart holiday packs are available for purchase online at and over the phone at (916) 371-HITS (4487).

The Sacramento River Cats are the Triple-A affiliate of the 2014 World Champion San Francisco Giants. The team plays at Raley Field in West Sacramento, consistently voted one of the top ballparks in America. River Cats season tickets, mini-plans, and flex plans can be purchased for the 2015 season by calling the River Cats ticket hotline at (916) 371-HITS (4487). For more information about the River Cats, visit For information on other events at Raley Field, visit

Source: Sacramento River Cats

Taekwondo Champions Compete For Points
Martial artists from schools across the western states, including students from 17 regional Robinson’s Taekwondo locations will compete in the event and spectacular special guest are set to demonstrate techniques and weapons.
Photo courtesy of Rick Reed

Taekwondo Championships at Memorial Auditorium

Posted: 1/30/2015

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Sparring circle competitive matches in eight rings featuring the hard-punching, high-flying kicks of Taekwondo martial arts will be the main feature at Sacramento’s Memorial Auditorium on February 28th.

Martial artists from schools across the western states, including students from 17 regional Robinson’s Taekwondo locations will compete in the event and spectacular special guest are set to demonstrate techniques and weapons.

More than 5,000 spectators from across the region attended the event last year, and organizers plan on the 2015 Sacramento Invitational Championships being bigger, better, and more exciting than ever.

Sacramento’s Memorial Auditorium is located at 1515 J Street, Sacramento, CA. Call (888) 249-7853 for information or visit Tickets are also available from the Sacramento Convention Center Box Office.

Source: Rick Reed

Local Rugby Pro Wishes Players Good Luck Before KOT

By Colin Hawley
Posted: 1/23/2015

Colin Hawley is Exuberant When He Breaks Free of the Scrum
Colin breaking for a try against Canada at the USA 7s in Las Vegas.
Photos courtesy of Creative Arts Marketing Imprint

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Commuting an hour from East Nicolaus, a small town of 200, Sacramento was the big city. Standing 5’ 4”, I was one of the three smallest kids in my freshman class at Jesuit High School in Carmichael. I make this point because no matter where you come from or how big and strong you are currently, you never know what the future may hold, especially with rugby.

Though my father, Loren, had been a great rugby player in his day (Cal Hall of Fame), prior to my attending Jesuit, I had never played rugby. I fancied myself a soccer and basketball player. My dreams of being a legendary soccer player, however, quickly faded after being cut from Jesuit soccer in my first tryout. It was my first athletic experience at Jesuit. Without a doubt, being cut was a sobering experience. Standing face to face with my limitations as an athlete was not the way I had drawn it up.

Still, I maintained my desire to be an athlete, playing football, basketball, and finally rugby in my first year at Jesuit. It was the first rugby practice when, fended in the chest and thrown to the ground by an upperclassman, I fell in love with this awesome sport. The freedom, physicality, and athletic expression in the sport had hooked me and have yet to let go.

That first year of rugby at Jesuit, everything about the game was new and fun. We trained as a club, getting ready for the season of competition ahead starting with something called the “Kick Off Tournament (KOT).” The day of my first KOT started out as just an important team day but proved to be something of a coming-out party. It was fun to be surrounded by so many like-minded friends and rivals. Each year, the KOT seemed to improve in its scope and quality of play and so did our game grow with it.

Though never the biggest, never the fastest, and never the strongest in high school, I enjoyed one distinct advantage: I was a student of the game. Rugby is unique in the sense that there is no one calling plays for you on the field. Playing the game involves perception, reaction, and creativity at its finest. Coupled with the ability to communicate what you see and what you want to do on the field to your fellow teammates, you can be a formidable rugby athlete. Our coaches at Jesuit were great at helping us to see, read, communicate, and exploit opportunities. But I also enjoyed one further advantage.

Colin Hawley and Zach Reed at Jesuit High School
Colin Hawley and Zach Reed at Jesuit. Both would attend Cal and play rugby under Jack Clark.

One of the main points I would like to cover for my progression in high school is that after every game, my father and I would review what my perceptions on the field had been and how I reacted to take advantage of scenarios presented throughout the match. We would talk and discuss the moments of the game and create a clear, unbiased picture of my performance. Even if I had three tries, I would still be rated on ball retention, passing completion, accuracy, kicking precision, etc. The ability to properly evaluate a rugby game, to determine what I did well and where I needed improvement, was the absolute best tool I have ever learned to use in my athletic career.

My love of rugby directed me to attend the Cal Rugby Camps every summer; thankfully, I was tagged by the program to continue my growth as a rugby player and student. Coming into college, I had grown vertically quite a bit, but at 6’1” and 160 lbs., there was some definite work to be done on my physical development as well. Being a part of a program like Cal Rugby exposed me to the type of athletic structure I desperately needed to continue my career. Cal Rugby’s doctrines of “high performance,” “grateful for everything; entitled to nothing,” and “constant performance improvement,” are just a few of the concepts—the cornerstones of my mindset—that would be the driving factors in my success on the rugby pitch.

During my tenure at Cal, I had been named All-American four times, National Collegiate Championship Most Valuable Player, four-time National Champion, and I began my journey into the international arena with my first USA 15s match against Claremont Auvergne in South Carolina and the USA 7s in the World Games in Taiwan. Each game had become a massive learning experience and being exposed to a higher level of play that early in my career gave me a direction to head towards and a level of play to aspire to.

Colin Hawley and Loren Hawley at the 2007 National Championship
Colin Hawley and his father, Loren, embrace after winning the National Championship MVP award in 2007.

Most of my post-collegiate rugby career has been spent sharing time between the two national rugby teams of 7s and 15s. The highlights of these would most notably be playing in the Rugby World Cup for 15s in 2011 in New Zealand and the Rugby World Cup for 7s in 2013 in Moscow but one of my most treasured possessions from a rugby victory is the bronze medal our 7s team won in Guadalajara at the Pan-American Games in 2011. Being able to stand on the podium and wave our country’s flag and receive that medal was an amazing feeling and one I hope many more U.S. rugby athletes come to share.

Rugby is now an Olympic Sport. I am proud to say that I was a member of the first group of American players to be contracted by USA Rugby and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) to train towards an Olympic Gold Medal for 7s Rugby while using the HSBC 7s World Series Circuit as our regular season. The landscape of rugby in America is changing and the opportunities for American Rugby players are currently astounding.

The end of this article is for the young men and women at the Kick Off Tournament: The future of rugby in America is in your hands. First and foremost, be a student of the game. Make sure that you are growing your game personally, and the larger game as a whole, in all the right directions. To the hard working volunteers who help pull this transcendent event together each and every year, please do so knowing your efforts are making a real difference in many lives. Thank you.


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